The HSE is rolling back COVID-19 test and trace measures, saying it is "perfectly reasonable" given the drop in case numbers.
Eileen Whelan, National Lead for Test and Trace with the HSE, told Breakfast Briefing that the change is a "clear response in relation to the changes in trends in COVID-19".
Between 500 and 700 people are getting tested daily now. In January 2022, it reached its peaked, with approximately 29,000 presenting for tests every day.
"The contact tracing department is being maintained but actually we're reducing our capacity and we see that that's perfectly reasonable to do."
"There's been a significantly less number of people presenting for tests and significantly less activity happening in our contact tracing department."
Spike in cases
Last month, COVID contact tracers were transferred to new roles with the Passport Service.
Whelan has assured that, while measures are being rolled back, the HSE will be able to ramp up again if needed.
"Our public health doctors will be monitoring the data quite closely ... and we will expect that we will have very early warning signs in relation to anything changing within the system", she said.
The HSE is currently investing in new models of virus surveillance.
"If anything changes in the external environment, if there's new variants of concern, by all accounts we will be able to implement surge capacity and we can build up our testing capacity."
Justice Minister Helen McEntee said earlier this summer that a mask mandate was "not the direction anyone wants to go in again".
If you have symptoms
For those who present symptoms now, Whelan said: "You need to stay at home. You need to avoid contact with other people, but you no longer need a test."
People should isolate until 48 hours after their symptoms have gone, or they have gotten a negative PCR test.
Those under 55 who are “otherwise healthy” will not be offered a PCR when experiencing COVID symptoms.
She added: "The public health advice isn't necessarily encouraging antigen tests."
Whelan said the "key message" is to get the booster vaccination when offered.
"This is really important because, as we know, the person's immunity wanes over time and it's really important that we keep up to date with our boosters."
The HSE will roll out a new booster campaign within the coming weeks in preparation for winter.
"Overall, it is about mitigating the severe impacts of the illness and managing early intervention."